What Does Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here Mean?

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here Meaning

Definition: Proceed with caution; do not enter.

The proverb abandon hope all ye who enter here comes from Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Origin of Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

Dante Alighieri used this proverb in Inferno, part one of three of the epic poem, Divine Comedy. The full epic, published in 1472, follows Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.

This proverb is inscribed above the gates of Hell. The original Italian version of the phrase reads, Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. The English all hope abandon, ye who enter here comes from an 1814 translation of Divine Comedy; this later became rearranged into its most common form today. Occasionally, someone may use a variant form, abandon all hope, ye who enter here, but this is less common.

Examples of Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

abandon all hope ye who enter here latinBecause it is rather obscure, English speakers do not commonly use this proverb in normal conversation.

In this exchange, Maria has just arrived at the hospital for a routine checkup. Her conversation with Joy, the receptionist, shows how native speakers might use this proverb.

Maria: Oh gosh, I’m so nervous. You might as well have a sign above the door saying, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

Joy: I wouldn’t say a hospital is comparable to Hell.

Maria: Well, no. But no one likes going to the hospital. Especially me.

all ye who enter here abandon hopeJoy: No need to be scared. Besides, I wouldn’t abandon all hope just yet. We save hundreds of lives every day. You never know. We just might save yours one day.

Though most people are at least familiar with the Divine Comedy, not all English speakers have read it, which means that not everyone will understand the reference. In this example, Joy understands the reference, which is why she says the hospital is not comparable to Hell.

More Examples

  • A month in, I had a panic attack that made it clear to me that it was beyond my capacity to hold both “healing” and “hope”. So abandon hope all ye who enter here. Choose healing, instead. – The Guardian

Summary

The meaning of the English proverb abandon hope all ye who enter here is literal. In the epic poem Divine Comedy, this proverb is inscribed on above the entrance to Hell.